Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jousting

Okay, I admit it.  I’m a Game of Thrones fan.  I started watching the show when it first came out and then got distracted from it for some reason and lost track.  With season three airing a few weeks ago, I decided to catch up and went back to the beginning.

A spectacular spectacle, this hastlitude!

This has to be one of the most violent shows I’ve ever watched.  The brutality of the medieval ages is depicted rather graphically.  I won’t even mention the sex.  This show is not for everyone and I caution anyone who hasn’t seen it that it definitely contains adult content.  But all that aside, the fantasy realm in which the show takes place is amazing.  I wish I could come up with a better adjective for it; amazing barely cuts it.  A Game of Thrones is mind-bogglingly fantastic.  Sometimes in a stomach-turning, face-grimacing, hide-your-eyes-behind-your-hands kind of way. 

Things don't always end well for the knights -
or their horses!
 The jousting scenes in season one are a good example.  Holy, moly!  I did some serious cringing in those episodes.   Between the lance through the neck and the poor sportsmanship of “the Mountain” when he cut his horses head off after losing a bout, I was beginning to think that I should not watch it right before bed time.  Or at least buffer it with an episode of Community.  Pretty gross stuff happening there!

The sport of jousting has always had a deep effect on me.  I hold my breath right from the moment the horses start their charges down the rail to the moment of impact.  Mostly I’m worried about the horses.  I figure if grown men are stupid enough to point lances at each other with the intention of skewering their opponents, they probably deserve what they get.  But the horses are unwitting and probably unwilling participants in this bizarre and dangerous game.   While I have to concede that without them the spectacle would lose 99% of the drama, it would gain about 110% in the amusing entertainment department.

Jousting is a hastilude (from the Latin hastiludium, meaning literally “lance game”).  The word joust is from the French joster, meaning “to approach; to meet.”  And the synonym, “tilt” dates to about 1510. It enjoyed a 500-year popularity, particularly in England and Germany, but finally died out in favour of other equestrian sports.
You can create your own
Game of Thrones sigil at
A limited revival of the sport began in the 1970s.  Thankfully, this is mostly confined to theatrical re-enactments in such groups as the Society for Creative Anachronism and the International Jousting Association.  But accidents still happen and it remains a dangerous, if not fantastically thrilling thing to do.  Or watch, as I would prefer, not being a huge thrill seeker and having a clear understanding with horses that I won’t ride them and they won’t throw me off them.  Though I do think it would be very cool to have my own suit of armour…


  1. Totally with you on all points. I adore Game of Thrones (the books, too) and the jousting really does catch the flavor o the era. (I also worry a lot more about the horses than the men). The books, too, emphasize the rituals like a man asking a woman's favor (her colored ribbon around his lance)

  2. I just went to Medieval Times last weekend. The Joust is my favorite part!!


    Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi

  3. Okay, now I know why I've never watched this - fantasy and violence combined, just not my thing! Thanks for letting me know I never even have to try it out! LOL!

  4. Jousting is definitely cool. I have to admit, sometimes it makes me think of the video game where your knight is riding an ostrich!


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